Saudi prince is buyer of record-breaking $450 million da Vinci
Attendants last month at a New York City art sale gasped after an anonymous buyer put up a baffling $450.3 million for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” — making it the most expensive painting ever sold at auction.
For weeks, the buyer’s identity remained unknown but on Wednesday, records uncovered by the New York Times finally revealed Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud as the affluent art aficionado.
Bader, a Saudi Arabian prince from a remote branch of the royal family, coughed up the record-shattering sum for the centuries-old painting of Jesus Christ in order to hang it in the newly opened branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. It is the mysterious prince’s first high-profile art purchase.
The hefty price tag raises questions over who’s targeted — and who’s spared — in the Saudi regime’s far-reaching corruption crackdown.
Dozens of Saudi elites and even some royal family members have been imprisoned at upscale hotels in the country for several weeks amid Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ostensible crusade against perceived self-enrichment in the conservative kingdom.
An employee poses with Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” on display at Christie’s auction rooms in London.
But Bader has apparently been left alone, and some speculate it’s because he’s a close friend of Prince Mohammed.
Bader has spent large sums on several ritzy commodities in recent years, including half a billion dollars on a 440-foot yacht.
Bader made the record-breaking offer for “Salvator Mundi” after 19 minutes of dueling with four other bidders at Christie’s auction house in Manhattan on Nov. 15.